The Living Magazines

Hyde Park Living .....Hyde Park, Oakley, Mt. Lookout, O'Bryonville and East Walnut Hills
Wyoming Living
Indian Hill Living
Fort Thomas Living

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Local Student Travels to Taiwan with CCM Preparatory Program

Walnut Hills High School student James Dawson poses with other musicians in Taiwan. 

By Cathy Hollander

Travel has expanded James Dawson’s world and his thoughts. Dawson, a tenth grader from Walnut Hills High School, traveled to Taiwan over Christmas break last year to play flute with a group of eight other American student musicians. Everywhere they went, they collaborated with the local Taiwanese students. They experienced Asian culture and food as well as a rehearsal of the National Taiwan College of Performing Arts acrobat circus and a performance of the Chinese comic opera about the monkey king, a figure from Asian folklore.

James lives with his parents, David and Tiffiny Dawson, and his sister Claire in Mt. Lookout.
James’ private flute teacher, Danielle Hundley, plays with a piano teacher from University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music (CCM) Preparatory Program. When the student group that planned to travel to play in Taiwan needed a flutist, she thought of James.

The chaperones for the trip to Taiwan were CCM Preparatory Program Master Teachers Jessica Madsen, Trio Jeng and Tze-Yean Lim. Trio’s brother, Dr. Gene Jan, is the president of TNNUA, the Tai Nan National University of the Arts, in Taiwan. She coordinated a concert tour and brought students to visit the university and other schools there. The trip was partially covered by a generous scholarship that President Jan fundraised locally to support the trip.They flew into Taoyuan, then traveled to Tai Nan National University of the Arts, where they spent several days in practice and coaching as well as enjoying a concert by TNNUA students. They also visited Chi Mei Museum, where they performed in a joint concert with TNNUA students and faculty.

“I liked playing with the group and became good friends with the other students from around Greater Cincinnati and Dayton,” said Dawson. There were opportunities to talk with the Taiwanese students, explaining words to each other.

James Dawson enjoying the Taiwanese environment 

In Taichung in central Taiwan, they performed in a joint concert with the University and Chang Hua Performing Arts High School students at the Xu Yang Gentle Earth Educational Foundation.  The next day the group played another joint concert at the Chang Hua Performing Arts High School.
There was time for some sightseeing in Taichung. James found the night market a particularly interesting cultural experience. The food, the lights and the carts and storefronts were different from what he’d seen in the United States. Their performances included chamber music as well as Taiwanese and Chinese traditional music. Back in Taipei, at the National Taiwan College of Performing Arts, they had another joint performances before flying home.

James has played music for almost as long as he can remember.

“My parents thought it was important,” he explained. His father David grew up playing piano (and even took lessons as an adult in recent years). Tiffiny’s father was a professional musician, and her mother and brother are also talented musically. Her brother sings in choirs. Tiffiny enjoyed playing cornet in her high school orchestra one year and took one year of piano lessons also in high school
“When James and Claire bxwere young, David and I wanted them to have some instruction, and once they were at Baldwin Music Education Center/Music Learning Center, Inc., they naturally progressed and seemed to always love music,” said Tiffiny Dawson. “They both wanted to play other instruments, so when they had the opportunities at Kilgour and then Hyde Park schools, we took full advantage. I believe music does so much for people, especially children - helps with math, is enjoyable, helps with emotional expression, soothes/calms, etc. We always sang to James and Claire, especially as part of their bedtime routine, so the piano, flute and cello (Claire) all seemed to come as a natural extension of something we’d always done.”

By fourth grade, James began playing the flute at Hyde Park School.

“My background in piano has really helped me,” said Dawson. “I already knew music and how to read the notes. I just needed to learn how to play the flute.”

By the time he was in seventh grade, he was taking private lessons and had moved beyond the basics and technique. He could learn the pieces, but didn’t have to worry about whether he could play them. Now he began to focus on “musicality,” the beauty and sound of the music, the feeling of it.

The trip to Taiwan was James’ fourth time traveling abroad. He has participated in three CISV (Children’s International Summer Village) International experiences in Sweden, Finland, and Spain. CISV is a peace organization that focuses on children and teenagers.
“Peace has to start with the children,” explains Dawson. “Many adults are too set in their ways and already have their own ideas about the world. CISV wants to teach children to be part of a global society. We meet often, our junior branch, to organize service projects. Delegations from various countries come together at the villages to learn about peace through activities that we create and run.”
Through his music trip and CISV exchanges, Dawson’s understanding and participation in the world is broader.
“Nothing felt too much different, though it was odd being in a country where many people did not speak English,” said Dawson. “In the past, most people have been able to speak at least a little English, but in Taiwan, many people spoke none at all. The food was very different and we definitely did have rice at every meal. But, in general, everywhere we went was still a city, and all the people we met were still people. Whenever I travel, I think the thing I find most amazing is not how different every person is, but how similar we all are.”

No comments:

Post a Comment